13th Academy Awards

The 1940 Academy Award Winners

Picture: Rebecca
Actor: James Stewart (The Philadelphia Story)
Actress: Ginger Rogers (Kitty Foyle)
Supporting Actor: Walter Brennan (The Westerner)
Supporting Actress: Jane Darwell (The Grapes of Wrath)
Director: John Ford (The Grapes of Wrath)
Adapted Screenplay: Donald Ogden Stewart (The Philadelphia Story)
Original Screenplay: Preston Sturges (The Great McGinty) / Benjamin Glazer and John S. Toldy (Arise, My Love)
Song: "When You Wish Upon a Star" (Pinocchio)
Score: Tin Pan Alley / Pinocchio
Cinematography: Rebecca (Black and White) / The Thief of Bagdad (Color)
Interior Decoration: Pride and Prejudice (Black and White) / The Thief of Bagdad (Color)
Film Editing: North West Mounted Police
Sound: Strike Up the Band
Special Effects: The Thief of Bagdad
Short Films: Mily Way (Cartoons) / Quicker 'N a Wink (One-Reel) / Teddy, the Rough Rider (Two-Reel)

The 13th Academy Awards honored American film achievements in 1940. This was the first year that sealed envelopes were used to keep secret the names of the winners which led to the famous phrase: "May I have the Envelope, please." The accounting firm of Price Waterhouse was hired to count the ballots, after the fiasco of leaked voting results in 1939 by the Los Angeles Times.

A new category was added this year for Best Original Screenplay.

Independent producer David O. Selznick, who had produced the previous year's big winner Gone with the Wind (1939), also produced the Best Picture winner in 1940 - and campaigned heavily for its win. Selznick was the first to produce two consecutive winners of the Best Picture Oscar. Rebecca was based on Daphne du Maurier's popular novel about a shrinking, child-like bride (Joan Fontaine) who lives in the shadow of her enigmatic widower husband's (Laurence Olivier) first wife at a somber estate named Manderley (run by a mad, steely-eyed and devoted housekeeper (Judith Anderson). Although Rebecca had eleven nominations, it only won for Best Picture and Best Cinematography, Black and White.

The film's studio - United Artists - was the last of the original film studios (the others were MGM, Columbia, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Universal, and Paramount) to win the Best Picture Oscar. Rebecca was the first American-made film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and the only film from him to win Best Picture.

The thirteenth Academy Awards ceremony was held on Thursday, February 27, 1941 at the Biltmore Bowl of the Biltmore Hotel. Tension filled the room, since this was the first Academy Awards in which the winners were kept completely secret. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a six-minute radio address to the Awards ceremony. Bob Hope hosted the event.